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Dr. Livingston's Lecture Synopsis

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Economic Freedom and Civil Rights

Many people believe that the single most important economic problem is creating a nation’s material well-being; that the major political challenge is to protect civil and human rights; and that various economic and political arrangements can be combined without restraint. In real social life, only certain economic arrangements are compatible with certain types of political arrangements, and economic freedom is essential for political freedom. French political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu asserted that human flourishing is most likely to occur when there is a diffusion of power throughout society. In America, his ideal has been described as a triune social order consisting of three systems – a competitive private enterprise economic system, a political system that is a constitutional democracy, and a moral-cultural system that embraces the ethic of pluralism. While America’s economic and political systems are inextricably linked and mutually dependent, the greatest threat to civil and human rights occurs when power gathers across these systems and extinguishes economic freedom.

Recommended Reading

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962)